Mitch Gagnon will meet Renan Barao at UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Dollaway.” | Photo: Brian Townsend/Sherdog.com
Have you heard of a UFC bantamweight by the name of Mitch Gagnon?
If not, you will soon because he’s fighting former world champion Renan Barao in Brazil at ”UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Dollaway.” The man deserves the step up in competition, as 11 of his 12 wins have come by way of submission, and his only loss under the UFC banner came in his promotional debut against Bryan Caraway.
But it’s likely not entirely his credentials that earned him his spot alongside Barao inside the Octagon, it’s his recent use of Twitter that obviously helped.
“It’s crazy man. I just wanted to create a little bit of buzz and get that fight against a top-10 fighter, so I sent out a tweet referencing how [Urijah] Faber wasn’t interested in fighting Raphael Assuncao and how I would gladly take his spot,” Gagnon told Sherdog.com “Literally a day later, I get offered [Renan] Barao and I was just like wow, I hadn’t even been thinking about Barao because I thought he was going to be taking some time off after the bad weight cut. It wasn’t even a thought in my head, but I was on it right away. It’s been surreal ever since, I’ve been go, go, go, trying to get everything organized so I can start my camp.”
Mitch Gagnon (@MitchGagnonUFC) October 14, 2014
Gagnon’s ascension through the 135-pound ranks are drastic; a loss in his first fight for the company on the preliminary portion of a card on FX, a Facebook fight (remember when those existed?), a Fox Sports 1 preliminary bout, a tilt on Fight Pass, a main card opener on Fox Sports 1, all the way to a co-main event against a former champ.
So just how did he get this fight?
“For the most part I like to take the high road, but I feel like if I’m just off social media and just go on fighting and not get involved I feel like I take the long road to getting fights I want. That’s why I think this time I took to Twitter and started asking for fights to create a little buzz. It’s no disrespect to anybody, I truly feel as if I deserve the top 10 opponent,” Gagnon said. “People that are using social media to their advantage, people who are always in the media get what they want. You have to adapt to it to get what you want.”
Gagnon got what he wanted alright, a shot against a man who is coming off the lowest point of his career. A loss to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173 -- his first in 33 fights -- which was then followed by a very public weigh cutting incident that resulted in his removal from the main event of UFC 177.
“Obviously Renan Barao’s name is huge in the MMA community, so it’s huge for me. As far as stylistically there’s a lot of places I can win this fight. I have to prove a lot of people wrong and I plan on doing it,” Gagnon said. “I’m not delusional; I know Barao is the top of the food chain. I know this is the toughest fight of my career, this is what I want, this is where I feel like I’m supposed to be. There have been tons of people in the sport that have proved people wrong and I plan on doing the same.”
With wins against Roman Salazar, Tim Gorman, Dustin Kimura and Walel Watson, it’s obvious Barao is at the top of the list. But Gagnon accepts the challenge and hopes to use it as inspiration in his ultimate pursuit of a UFC title.
“Fighting in the co-main event of a card headlined by Lyoto Machida, against Renan Barao in Brazil is crazy to me. I’m super motivated for this fight, people don’t even understand how much work I’m going to put in for this camp. Barao better not take me lightly,” Gagnon said. “Usually I start camps five to six weeks out, this time around I’m starting right now. I really want to emphasize on very small details. In my last couple fights I didn’t have a lot of footage on my opponents, I just went into the fight thinking my style could beat any of these guys. Barao has been competing for a while; there is a lot of footage on him, I can really dissect his style and really put together a great game plan for him.”
Much like Dillashaw proved in his fight against Barao, Gagnon hopes to remain active in taking control of the cage. Not allowing “The Baron” to settle in and dictate the pace.
“It’s one of those things where I need to be on him, I need to be in his face and not give him time to settle in and fight his fight. The biggest key for this fight is to bring the fight to him,” Gagnon said. “I am going to head over to Brazil a little early to get used to the time change and get acclimated. But it’ll be something I’ll roll with as time goes along, what’s important to me is training and gaining every advantage I can. I know I have my work cut out for me. There’s a lot of doubters, it’s one of those fights where I am going to put people in awe after the fight.”
Dec. 20 will mark the first time Gagnon fights for the promotion anywhere other than Canada. This stems from a situation in his past that has prevented him from fighting in the U.S. While he didn’t elaborate as to what had happened, he did say that he hopes it will be cleared by the end of 2014.
“It’s something that is in the past really, It’s something I don’t really want to discuss right now,” Gagnon explained “At the end of the day I believe it’ll be handled at the end of the year and I’ll be able to travel anywhere I want.”
When asked about how he would feel had he missed weight for a main event fight on pay-per-view, Gagnon gave the impression that he wouldn’t let an opportunity like this slip through his fingers.
“I pride myself on taking care of my weight; I do a pretty hard cut. It’s one of those things where I think it can happen to anybody, we all cut a lot of weight,” Gagnon said. “I would feel ashamed if I was the main event of a card and all that happened the day before, but I think it could happen to anyone.”